30 March 2006
Briefing Security Council, Foreign Minister of Côte d'Ivoire Appeals for Continued Assistance from International Community in Meeting Country's Challenges
Continuing Efforts Needed in Financing Electoral Process; Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration; Strengthening Security; Promoting Human Rights
NEW YORK, 29 March (UN Headquarters) -- Noting that after several years of turbulence and violence, the peace and reconciliation process in Côte d'Ivoire had taken a positive turn, Foreign Minister Youssouf Bakayoko this morning appealed to the international community to help Ivorians weather the storms ahead, particularly to reach the general elections which were the only way out of the country's crisis.
Briefing the Security Council on the situation in Côte d'Ivoire, he said that while everyone should be pleased with recent developments, it must be recognized that great tasks assigned to the Government within the road map elaborated by the international working groups called for continued vigilance and stepped up efforts.
He said efforts must continue regarding financing the electoral process; disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; strengthening security throughout the entire territory; humanitarian problems and human rights; strengthening the capacity of judicial institutions to ensure the rule of law throughout the country; support for the State's economy and finances; and the return of refugees and internally displaced persons.
Strengthening security throughout the territory was the greatest concern for all Ivorians and the Government, he stated. Security must be guaranteed not only in Abidjan, but especially in the interior of the country. He asked the Council to support the proposal to strengthen the number of peacekeepers in Côte d'Ivoire. While he was aware that it was primarily up to the Ivorians to do all they could to emerge from the crisis, everyone must work together for the return of peace to Côte d'Ivoire. He invited all international institutions to respect their commitments regarding the recovery and reconstruction process.
Today's meeting, he said, was part and parcel of all the timely initiatives taken for Côte d'Ivoire and for Ivorians since the crisis broke out in September 2002. Since the Council's adoption of resolution 1633, Côte d'Ivoire had been going through a new era which had allowed the peace and reconciliation process to develop significantly. Despite several obstacles, especially the unfortunate events of mid-January, the process had proceeded satisfactorily. He was pleased that the Government had regained calm, and actions had been taken against those responsible for stymying the peace and reconciliation process in the country.
He highlighted two significant meetings which took place in Yamoussoukro in February. The first was a government seminar to define modalities for the implementation of the road map elaborated by the international working group. The second was a round table involving the four major Ivorian leaders -- Laurent Gbagbo, Henri Konan Bedie, Alassane Ouattara and Guillaume Soro. That meeting, the first of its kind carried out on Ivorian soil since the start of the crisis, allowed them to take up with the Prime Minister fundamental concerns, as well as take several decisions.
Among the decisions taken, he said the leaders reaffirmed that resolution 1633 and the country's Constitution were not incompatible and called on the Head of State to find appropriate solutions regarding possible conflicts between them. On disarming militias, they admitted it was time to update the timetable for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. Regarding elections, they were pleased with the technical possibility of simultaneously conducting operations for voter identification and the electoral census. They called on the Government to rely on international help for the massive identification operation.
With respect to Ivorian television, the leaders noted the measures taken by the Government to ensure that the entire country would be covered by television services so that the message of peace and reconciliation could be spread throughout Côte d'Ivoire. The leaders also noted the election of the bureau of the Independent Electoral Commission and of the arbitration of the United Nations High Representative for elections in Côte d'Ivoire. They decided to establish a fourth post for vice-president for the Ivorian Popular Front in order to have balanced representation. They also called on the Prime Minister to convene the bureau of the Commission, the signatories of the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement and other relevant parties to determine, with the High Representative, the powers of the members of the bureau and the operating rules of the Commission so that elections could be organized in a fair, transparent and credible way.
The two meetings held in Yamoussoukro, particularly the one between the four leaders, had enabled the Prime Minister to put the peace and reconciliation process in the hands of the Ivorians, to determine the modalities of implementation of resolution 1633 and the road map, and to create the necessary climate for implementation. Among the positive results was the convening on 7 March of the Electoral Commission's bureau. Also, meetings were held in March between the major opposition parties, out of which emerged important statements regarding the determination of the leaders to work in a new spirit. In addition, the return of Mr. Soro to Abidjan on 14 March, after seven months, was sufficient evidence of the fact that the wall of mistrust was finally being broken.
The new spirit which had emerged from the Yamoussoukro Summit, and had provided new hope to all Ivorians, had also made it possible to begin to expand administration in the regions under the control of the Forces nouvelles in the area of education. Progress in various areas must become irreversible and must consolidate the climate of trust. In that respect, security matters must be settled as a matter of urgency. An important element in that regard was addressing the living and working conditions of the soldiers in the national army.
He thanked the United Nations system for its assistance to the Ivorian population heavily affected by the crisis since 2002. The humanitarian agencies did not suspend their actions on the ground, despite the events in January. The Government, to mark its support for that, had issued a statement condemning the events that took place. Also, an inter-ministerial commission, including the humanitarian agencies, was being set up, and a special counsellor for humanitarian action had just been appointed by the Prime Minister.
The meeting began at 10:08 a.m. and adjourned at 10:30 a.m.
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